Oxford Island

Just to highlight that a birders car was broken into at the weekend when he was birding at the Kinnegoe Hide, Oxford Island. The car was parked along the roadside and not at the Discovery Centre.

Disappearing Hedgerows

According to the Dept. of Agriculture, hedges in NI may be trimmed or coppiced from 1 September until the end of February, but from 1 March to 31 August, hedge cutting or coppicing is not permitted under Single Farm Payment Cross-Compliance requirements.  This is to protect nesting birds from disturbance. All wild birds, their nests, young and eggs are protected under law and it is an offence to damage a nest intentionally while it is in use or being built. However many of us will have noticed incidents where hedges have been removed or paired back leaving little habitat for wildlife. Stephen Scarlett has sent us in this photograph from a farm in Fermanagh where the hedgerow is certainly not held in any importance:

Bird News Monday 28th February

A Dark-bellied Brent was with 106 Pale-bellied off Glynn Station in Larne Lough. A second winter Mediterranean Gull and a Long-tailed Duck were also seen (Cameron Moore).

Portmore RSPB reserve had 1 Snow Goose, Pinkfoot Goose 1, Greylag Goose 350, Brambling 2, Tree Sparrow 30+ and Buzzard 3 (Ed O'Hara)
Reedy Flats, Lough Neagh had 60 Whooper, 150 Greylag, 1000 Golden Plover, 50 Dunlin, 14 BT Godwit and 200 Wigeon (Ed O'Hara)
Snow Goose & Greylags - Ed O'Hara

Tree Sparrows - Ed O'Hara
Goldfinch - Andrew Poots

Bird News for Sunday 27th February

The first winter male Ring Necked Duck was at Ballyherly Lough. A White Fronted Goose, a
Barnacle and 300 Greylag were at Anne's Point (Richard Weyl).
The 5 Pink Footed Geese were with 160 Greylag at Mullagh and the male "Lesser Scaup"
type hybrid still at Lough Beg (David Steele).
A Slavonian Grebe and a Great Northern Diver were off Glynn in Larne Lough (Stuart
An adult Mediterranean Gull was at Glynn Harbour along with a Dipper. 5 Red Throated Diver were at Portmuck and a LT Duck at Carrick. (G.Armstrong/P.West)
An Iceland Gull was at Kilkeel Co.Down and a Ring-billed Gull at Carrick.(Birdguides)

Thanks to Craig Nash for the photo below of this male Sparrowhawk he took this morning.

1 Year Old........

Its hard to believe, but this Blog is 1 year old on the 27th February! That first message was the bird news for that day.
The blog was originally set up by the NIBA to publish Northern Ireland bird news along with information that would be of interest to local birders - be it events, photographs, conservation news items or ID features.
The interest in this blog has grown and for example, during this month we had a peak of over 1000 hits in 48 hours. We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported it, be it with sightings, photographs or other contributions.
As usual, if you would like to contribute to it, please get in touch at nibirds@live.co.uk

In case you were wondering, here is what was about on the 27th February 2010!

Canada Goose
- 1, Flatfields, River Lagan, near Moira, Co. Down. Presumed parvipes
Pink footed Goose - 1, Lady Bay, Antrim (Lough Neagh)
Little Egret - 3, Ballycarry, Co.Antrim
Lapwing - 500, Dundrum, Co. Down
Sanderling - 55, Tyrella, Co. Down
Whimbrel - 1, Seapark \ Grey Point, Co. Down
Ring Billed Gull - Carrrickfergus, Co. Antrim - Probably a third winter?
Hybrid Ring Billed Gull x Common Gull - 1, Millisle Car Park,Co. Down
Iceland Gull - 1, Kilkeel,Co. Down
Brambling - 3, Whitehead, Co. Antrim
Brambling - 1, Carnlea, Co. Antrim

Bird News for Saturday 26th February

A Little Auk and a Carrion Crow were at Portmuck(eastern tip of Islandmagee). An ad Med.Gull was at Whitehouse Lagoon and a pair of Long-tailed Duck of Carrick.
The male Ferruginous Duck was at Lurgan Park Lake (Stephen Foster).
A fem/imm Smew was at off the hide at Collectors Bay, Quoile Pondage. There was no sign of the RN Duck at Lough Cowey (Keith Bennett).
Along the Outer Ards the hybrid RB x Common Gull was at Millisle. 4 Sandwich Tern were at Ganaway and another Sandwich Tern a mile south of Portavogie (Richard Weyl).
Along the Antrim coast 2 RT Diver were off Whitehead and another 2 RT Diver at Glenarm. On the Plateau 5 Raven were at Capanagh and another 3 Raven at Ballyboley (Jim Whitla, Bangor RSPB).

Bird News Friday 25th February

23 Pink Footed Geese were at Myroe Levels, Lough Foyle (Matthew Tickner).

A Snow Bunting was at Balls Point and 8 Common Scoter and 2 Shoveler at
Magilligan Point (George Henderson).

A second winter Iceland Gull was at Belfast Lough RSPB Reserve and 2 Raven
over Lisburn (Dave Brookes).

At Strangford Lough a Short Eared Owl was between Kircubbin and Horse Island. A
Sandwich Tern and 3 Slavonian Grebe were between Horse Island and Gransha
Point, but only one Slavonian Grebe at Greyabbey (Richard Weyl).

6 Whooper Swan were at Rossnagalliagh near New Buildings along the River
Foyle (Stephen Davis).

Bird News for Thurs 24th February

A single flock of 5000 starling were feeding in a field near Carry Bridge, near Lisbellaw, Co. Fermanagh. (Ian Enlander).

This morning a female Sparrowhawk was hunting over Bangor town centre,and a male and female Kestrel were at Groomsport.
This afternoon a male Sparrowhawk was at Donaghadee and a female Kestrel over Kilcooley estate, Bangor. (Colin Cardy).

One red head Smew was at the Quoile Pondage today. (Joe Devlin).

9 Whooper Swan and 3 Buzzard were at Carrickmacross, Co. Armagh. (Irish Birding).

4 Buzzard calling over Derrymore Wood Bessbrook, two Raven present, looked like they were getting ready to breed (Frank Carroll)

A male Goosander was at Ballycastle and 2 female/immature Goosander at Cushendun Bay (Colin Guy).

2 Tree Sparrow and 3 Brambling were in a garden in Whitehead (Cameron Moore).

Last night a Barn Owl was along Waterloo Road in Lisburn (Garry Wilkinson).

Bird News Wed 23rd February

4 Waxwing were in a garden in Larne (Betty Foster).
A Dark-bellied Brent was at Steel's Point two and a half miles north of Ballycarry Bridge on the Island Magee side. It was with 150 Pale-bellied Brent (Cameron Moore).
Yesterday a third year Glaucous Gull was at Ramore Head (Colin Guy).

The Asian Lesser Whitethroat continues to be seen in Drogheda (Irish Birding \ http://nibirds.blogspot.com/2011/01/easy-twitch-for-us-northerners.html )

Bird News for Tues.22nd February

12 Waxwing were in trees on the corner of Franklin St. and Alfred St. in Belfast city centre.(R.McQuillan)

35 Waxwing were at Trailcock Road along the Larne Road between Carrickfergus and Eden. 3 Brambling were in a garden in Whitehead (Cameron Moore).

2 fem/imm Goosander were along the River Main between Galgorm village and Galgorm Manor Hotel near Ballymena (Jeff Larkin).

A male Kingfisher was at the Greenway along Beersbridge Road in Belfast (Anthony Dodds)

A female Sparrowhawk hunting and Raven @ Ravelstone Ave Bangor.(C Cardy)


Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) is a localised breeding redsident in NI and also a common winter visitor. The breeding population is however only estimated to be about 4000 pairs. The race G.g. faroeensi breeds in Iceland, the Faroes and Shetland and is assumed to be a regular winter visitor - there is a historic ringing recovery of a bird from Iceland. Local birder Stephen Foster has kindly sent in some notes and a photograph of a bird that he has observed in NI:

During a wildfowl count on Lough Neagh on 17 November 2003, I encountered some Common Snipe in a wet, heavily poached field by Curran Quay near Kinturk, County Tyrone.  Three birds were standing together; one individual was strikingly darker than the other two.  The light was not good but I managed to get some digiscope record shots of the dark bird and its companions.  A look through my bird books at home led me to conclude that the dark one was possibly an individual of the race faeroeensis from Iceland/Faeroes/Shetland.  Recently I studied the photos again and after a search on the internet I have found a photo that matches quite well with my bird http://bitterbonxie.wordpress.com/2009/11/15/do-you-come-here-often/.  In theory there are probably quite a few birds of this race around in winter but it’s not often you get the chance to pick them out.  

Bird News Monday 21st February

The Ring-necked Duck was still at Lough Cowey, Co. Down (James Robinson)
An adult Iceland, second year Glaucous and a presumed Glaucous x Herring Gull hybrid were at Enniskillen Tip (Brad Robson).
The 5 Pink-footed Geese were still at the Creagh near Toome. They were with 50 Greylag and 300 Whooper Swan. 100 Tree Sparrow were at Mullagh (David Steele).
13 Sandwich Tern were at Portaferry Marina (Irish Birding).

8 Brambling were at Balloo Road Bangor today (Colin Cardy)
Up to 100 Tree Sparrow (unprecedented for this locality) have been visiting a garden in Co. Down (Craig Nash)
Tree Sparrows in the rain - Craig Nash

Birding in the Isle of Man

Mark Fitzpatrick has sent us updated details of the Isle of Man Birdlife website. Manx BirdLife was formerly known as Manx Bird Atlas. It is a charity in the Isle of Man that was originally set up to survey and produce an atlas of the birds of the Isle of Man (as the original name suggests!). Since the atlas was published, they have continued with various research and conservation work. The website is at: http://manxbirdlife.im/
Sightings and news will no doubt be of interest to NI birders. 

Bird News Sunday 20th February

The first winter male Ring Necked Duck was at Lough Cowey. 2 Black Throated Diver, 2 Pink Footed Geese. 50 Greylag and a Sandwich Tern were at Ringburr Point. Another 9 Sandwich Tern were at Portaferry (Richard Weyl).
The Lesser Scaup type hybrid was with 50 Pochard at Lough Beg. 5 Pink Footed Geese were at the Creagh (David Steele).
41 Waxwing were at Sainsbury's car park in Carrickfergus (Gerard McGeehan, Stuart McKee).
12 Long-Tailed Duck were off Greenisland Sea Park (Gerard McGeehan).
Yesterday the male Ferruginous Duck was at Lurgan park Lake (Stephen
Also yesterday 45 Slavonian Grebe were in Strangford Lough between Greyabbey Bay and Gransha Point - 38 of them at Greyabbey (Richard Weyl).

23 Whooper Swans were outside Enniskillen. (Irish Birding).
18 Whooper Swans were in the Closet Meadows at Oxford Island and two Ruddy Ducks were in Kinnegoe Bay. (Ed O'Hara).
2 Whitefronted Geese were at Knockinny, Co. Fermanagh. (Brad Robson).
The male Smew was still at Drumgay Lough, Enniskillen. (Brad Robson).

Thanks to Ed O'Hara for these shots from Co. Armagh today

Great Crested Grebe, Oxford Island - Ed O'Hara

Cormorant, Balancing Lakes, Craigavon - Ed O'Hara

Bird News Saturday 19th February

A drake Smew was at Drumgay Lough, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh today and yesterday 6 Crossbill and a Pine Marten were at Belmore Forest. (Brad Robson).
16 Waxwing were in Sainsburys car park in Carrickfergus. (G McGeehan).
At least 53 Bramblings were visiting a garden at Richill, Co. Armagh (A Poots).
Thanks to Andrew for these shots from his garden.

Bird News Friday 18th February

The female Brambling was still at the RSPB Harbour Reserve. (Paul Scott)
On Islandmagee, a garden held 2 Blackcap, 40 Goldfinch and a dozen Chaffinch (Robert McDowell)
2,000 Black-headed \ Common Gulls were in fields near Junction 2 of the M22 on the Randalstown Forest side (George Henderson).
A Goosander was at Strabane (Tyrone Nelson)

Bird News for Thurs.17th February

Thanks to Ed O'Hara who sent in this photo of the Brambling currently visiting the RSPB Belfast Harbour Estate reserve

12 Snow Bunting and an adult Mediterranean Gull were at the car park at
Greenisland. 6 LT Duck were offshore (Gerard McGeehan).

There are 2 DB Brent at Larne Lough. One was off Glynn Station where 2
Carrion Crow and 2 Greenshank were also present. The other was with 100
Pale-bellied Brent and 2 Little Egret at Steel's Point on the Island Magee
side. 4 Whooper Swan were at Church Bay (Cameron Moore).

Yesterday what were almost certainly 69 PF Geese were with Greylag and
Whooper Swans at Grange along the River Foyle (George Henderson).

GS Woodpecker was coming to feeders in a garden in Parkgate, Ballyclare Co.Antrim. (Mrs McKee)

A BT Diver and a Slav.Grebe wre at Kircubbin.(H.McCullough)

3 Redwing were at Lincoln Court in Londonderry.(S.Davis)

Bird News Wednesday 16th February

180 Greylag Geese and 5 Pink-footed Geese were at the Mullagh, Lough Beg, Co. L'derry. (David Steele)
The female Brambling was seen again at the RSPB Harbour Reserve, Belfast

A Long Eared Owl was hunting in Peatlands Park, Co. Armagh, late this afternoon. (Ed O'Hara)
Long Eared Owl - Ed O'Hara

Bird News for Tues 15th February

At Larne Lough a 1stw Med Gull and 2 Purple Sandpiper were at Sandy Bay,the DB Brent was with 100 PB Brent at Church Bay again, a mile north of Balycarry Bridge on the Islandmagee side(C.Moore)
A Waxwing was in a garden in Co. Armagh (Andrew Poots)

2 fem. Hen Harrier were seen at Peatlands Park. (Neil McCartney)

Bird News Monday 14th February

1 Ad Med Gull in flooded fields at Poyntzpass Co. Armagh. 1 Female Brambling at Lough Shark Co. Armagh (Joe Devlin)
A fem/imm Smew was at Brookend on the Tyrone shore of Lough Neagh (Stephen Foster).
7 Purple Sandpiper were at Sandy Bay in Larne (Gerard McGeehan).

In Co. Down, a female Peregrine was at Millquarter Bay, Sandwich Tern at Kilclief, Red-throated Diver in breeding plumage at Tullyhill Bay and a female Merlin at Bishopscourt (Ian Jackson \ David Nixon)
The female Brambling was still at the RSPB Belfast Reserve (Paul Scott)
30 Siskin were in a garden in Richhill, Co. Armagh (Andrew Poots)

Lesser Redpoll - Pauline Majury
Female Siskin - Andrew Poots

Male Blackcap - Pauline Majury

On this date.

13th February 1988 a Lesser Scaup was found on Corbet Lake Co.Down. This was infact the first for the whole of Ireland and only the second for Britain, the first been a record from Chasewater W. Midlands a year earlier. Since then, they have become almost annual and this is surely down to increased identification awareness.

Bird News for Sunday 13th February

The fem/imm Smew was still showing on the River Quoile Co.Down, a 1stw and an ad. Med Gull were at Killough Co.Down and a Brambling was at the Quoile centre (P.West/I.Graham)

At Drumnagreagh there were 5 GN Diver, 10 RT Diver, 6 BT Diver an 16 Eider.(P.Majury)

35 Brambling and 40 Tree Sparrow were visiting a garden in Richill Co.Armagh (Andrew Poots)

150 Whooper Swans at Corlatt, Newtownbutler, plus 80 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard at Crom, Co Fermanagh. (Stephen Scarlett)

A female Brambling was in a garden at Knock, Belfast (W Farrelly)

Thanks to Craig Nash for the two photo's above, you don't need me to tell you what they are.

Long-tailed Tit - George McKee

Countryfile Tonight

Countryfile on BBC1, tonight (Sunday) at 7pm, features Northern Ireland's best wildlife location - Rathlin Island.

Bird News for Saturday 12th February

The RN Duck was still on Lough Cowey Co.Down.(M.Garner/W.Farrelly)

On the Outer Ards peninsula a 1stw Yellow-legged Gull was at the floodgates at N'ards, 2BT Diver were at Greyabbey Bay South and a remarkable 42 Slav.Grebe were at Big Rock Bay.

The Ring-billed Gull / Common Gull hybrid was still at the pools in Millisle (see photo below by Ian Graham)

2 fem/imm Smew were along the River Quoile nr the bridge on the road to Killyleagh. A Brambling and 2 Lesser Redpoll were at the Quoile Centre(I.Mitchell)

The DB Brent still at Ballycarry Bridge.(C.Moore)

The fem Brambling was still coming to the feeders at the RSPB Belfast Harbour Estate Reserve and an ad Med Gull at Kinnegar shore.(W.Farrelly)

In Donegal an ad Kumliens Gull, 4 Iceland and a Woodcock were at Killybegs Co.Donegal.(B.Robson)

Late news from yesterday a 2nd win. Med Gull a GN Diver and 2 RT Diver were at Ballygalley and 3 Purple Sandpiper and a RT Diver were at Black Arch.(C.Moore)

Wader roost at Newcastle

Thanks to Ed O'Hara for the above photos of Dunlin which he took at high tide in Newcastle Co.Down, for all you photographers out there the high tide allows you very close views of roosting birds.

BTO Help Wanted

There are still a number of 10-km squares on the Londonderry/Donegal border that appear to be a bit low on the number of species recorded in the winter months (Nov-Feb). We can use the species lists gathered in the last Winter Atlas in 1981-84 as a guide to the number of species we might expect to find in these squares, though of course there will have been many losses and gains in species since then! Please take a look at the ‘Roving Gaps’ map on the Atlas website (http://blx1.bto.org/atlas-results/rich_gaps_map.html) and see if you can help fill any gaps between now and the end of the month.

Bird News Friday 11th February

2 Iceland Gull (juvenile and second winter) were at Enniskillen Tip (Brad Robson).
24 Waxwing were outside the Spar along Botanic Avenue in Belfast (John Pyper)
The female Brambling and 4 Siskin were still around the feeders at the RSPB Belfast Harbour reserve. A Goldeneye was present on Tuesday and yesterday 2 Gadwall and 2 'baltic' Lesser Black Backed Gulls (Brian Douglas) 
Below are photos of the Waxwings at Marlbank Loop, Florencecourt, Fermanagh by Tim and Pam Fogg today.  Up to 6 have been present for the past three days approximately 200m east of the entrance to Marble Arch Caves and occasionally in the car park of the caves visitor centre.

Ocean of Wings Film Festival

A reminder about the one day festival of seabird films to be shown in Northern Ireland:
Saturday 5th March 2011
10am – 4.30pm
Tollymore National Outdoor Centre
Bryansford, Co Down
The detailed programme of films and speakers for the day has not yet been finalised. However, because time is moving on, and demand for the limited number of places is likely to be high, it has been decided to let everyone know the date and venue for the festival, and to allow those that are interested to book their place. Due to sponsorship for the event by NIEA it has been possible to keep the cost of tickets to just £10. This will include teas, coffees and a lunch, as well as the films and the speakers.
The day will include:
A small number of seabird specialist speakers
Details of a new seawatching initiative being developed by a wide range of partners and being coordinated by BTO
The opportunity to network with seabird enthusiasts
A large number of Seabird films.

For further details and a booking form, please email Shane Wolsey at:  shane.wolsey@bto.org

Bird News Thursday 10th February

A first winter Iceland Gull was at the Barmouth of the Bann Estuary (Ian Mitchell).

At Strangford Lough a Black Throated Diver and a Great Northern Diver were at Kircubbin (H McCullough).

In Fermanagh an immature White Tailed Eagle was at Boa Island at Lower Lough Erne(Fionbarr Cross).

4 Waxwing were in the car park at Marble Arch Caves (BradRobson).

Yesterday a Black Kite was reported from Tory Island, Co. Donegal, possibly a wintering bird. (Irish Birding).

Thanks to Craig Nash and George McKee for the shots below.

Pied Wagtail - Craig Nash

Turnstones - Craig Nash

Curlew, Island Hill, Strangford - George McKee

Talk Tommorow Night - A reminder

A reminder that Martin Garners talk will be taking place at 7:30 tomorrow (Friday 11th February) at CIYMS, Circular Road, east Belfast. There is no charge for NIBA members, for non members there is a £3 cover charge. For anyone needing to know the location of the venue, click on the link below:


There is plenty of car parking on site and refreshments are available.

Bird News Wednesday 9th February

6 Waxwing were at Marlbank Loop at Florencecourt in Fermanagh (G Moore).

A Great Northern Diver was at Lower Lough Erne Islands RSPB Reserve (Brad Robson).

Yesterday a female or immature Smew was still along the Quoile River near the bridge on the road to Killyleagh. What was probably a different bird was at the yacht club end of the Quoile Pondage. A Carrion Crow, 20 Red Breasted Merganser and a Greenshank were at Killyleagh (Spencer and Joan Marshall).

Bird News for Tues 8th February

The Ring-necked Duck continues to be seen at Lough Cowey Co.Down(Birdguides)

The DB Brent (seen earlier at Church Bay) was at Ballycarry Bridge in Larne Lough along with the Med.Gull with the yellow ring. 130 PB Brent,4 Whooper Swan, 50 Greylag and a Little Egret. (C.Moore)

12 Waxwing were at Winter Avenue, Belfast. (Irishbirding)

3 Snow Bunting, 6 Red Grouse and a male Merlin were at Agnew's Hill nr Larne (Irishbirding)

14 Purple Sandpipers were at Newcastle harbour. (Ian Jackson).
Thanks to Ian for these shots from Newcastle today.
Purple Sandpiper, Newcastle Harbour - Ian Jackson

Dunlin, Newcastle Harbour - Ian Jackson

All Ireland Bird Conference

Curlew - A declining breeding species in Ireland
Hosted by RSPB Northern Ireland and BirdWatch Ireland, the All Ireland Conference 2011 will take place from Friday 25 March-Sunday 27 March. The venues is the Hilton Templepatrick Hotel, in the magnificent Castle Upton Estate on the banks of The Six Mile Water, near Belfast.
The conference is for anyone with an interest in nature, experts and non-experts alike. This year’s theme is Futurescapes and the need for a landscape-scale approach to conservation across Ireland, showing how everyone, from farmers and gardeners to planners, has their part to play in ensuring the survival of our diverse habitats and the wildlife they sustain.
Further details are at: http://www.rspb.org.uk/thingstodo/allireland.aspx

Belted Kingfisher update.

The Belted Kingfisher which was seen at Claudy Co.Londonderry on Sunday,was looked for to-day without success. It could of course still be somewhere in the area (fingers crossed). Belted Kingfisher has been recorded once before in Northern Ireland a bird that was unfortunately shot at Dundrum Inner Bay in the autumn of 1980 so no birder got to see it alive, the specimen is currently held at the Ulster Museum.

Bird News Monday 7th February

A Belted Kingfisher was reported yesterday afternoon at Claudy per Birdguides. It was on the right, along the country walk from the bridge in Claudy. This is a mega rarity in Ireland so any information about the sighting would be appreciated!

Two Waxwing were on telegraph wires on Donegall Avenue, Whitehead, County Antrim, opposite the school building (Stephen O'Donoghue)

13 Whooper Swan were at Coolnamarrow, which is between Roslea and Donagh, Co.Fermanagh (Stephen Scarlett).

3 Bewick's Swan, 250 Brent, 100 Whooper Swan, 250 Greylag and a Little Egret were at Myroe Levels (Chris Stewart).

A Blue Fulmar was with small numbers of Gannet and Fulmar at Ramore Head.Two female/immature Goosander were at the Glenariff River at Waterfoot. Yesterday 4Crossbill were at Springwell Forest (Stuart McKee).

Bird Trip Reports

Some new bird trip reports have been published on line recently by local birders. The latest one is a trip to one of the top Western Palearctic birding areas, eastern Turkey. The spring 2010 trip report from Clive Mellon can be viewed by following the link on the 'Foreign Bird Reports' at the top of this page.
If you have a bird trip that you would like a link to or for it to be published, please email us at nibirds@live.co.uk
Wallcreeper, Bulgaria - Ian Graham

Bird News Sunday 6th February

The white phase Snow Goose was in fields beside Lady Bay, close to Portmore Lough.
3 Brambling were visiting a garden at Knock, east Belfast (W Farrelly)
A Dark-bellied Brent Goose was at Church Bay, Co. Antrim and an adult Mediterranean Gull, Mouth of the Inver River, Co. Antrim (Neal Warnock)

3 Bewick's Swan, 50 Tree Sparrow and a Merlin were at Myroe Levels and 7 Slavonian Grebe, 3 GN Diver, 12 RT Diver and 40 Common Scoter offshore (Stuart McKee).
At Larne Lough a first winter Mediterranean Gull with a red ring was at Ballycarry Bridge (Cameron Moore). The fem/imm Smew was at Mullagh and the "Lesser Scaup" type male Tufted x Pochard hybrid still at Lough Beg (David Steele).

A male Brambling was in a garden in Ballymena (Richard Gray).
A Brambling was at Strickland's Glen in Bangor (Richard Weyl).
At Strangford Lough 200 Whooper Swan were at Islandhill (Jim Whitla)

Bird News Saturday 5th February

3 Brambling were in a garden at Knock, Belfast (W Farrelly)
52 Red-throated Diver, a Gannet and 14 Harbour Porpoise were at Portmuck on Island Magee (Ian Enlander).
The adult Ring-billed Gull was at Portrush East Strand car park (Stuart McKee)
A Red Kite was at Moneyslane, Co. Down (Ed O'Hara).
5 Goosander were at Lough Island Reavy, Co. Down
A male and female Brambling were at a feeder in Peatlands Park (Stephen Foster)
Female Brambling - Stephen Foster

Bird News Friday 4th February

A female Brambling and 2 Siskin were at the RSPB Harbour Estate, Belfast reserve. Up to 400 Lapwing have been there in the last few days.
At least 5 Bewick's Swan were at the lawn turf fields at Myroe levels, but perhaps more as conditions were terrible (Stuart McKee).
The first winter Mediterranean Gull (with the yellow ring) and a Carrion Crow were at the small boat compound along Whitehead seafront (Cameron Moore)

Many thanks to Richard Weyl for providing the following further information on Red Grouse:
A report on the status red grouse was undertaken for NIEA in 2004 http://www.doeni.gov.uk/niea/red_grouse_survey_04.pdf  This included a  comprehensive survey which found between 202 and 221 breeding territories,  Recent records would be useful to establish the current status of the species.  These should be entered into the BTO Bird Atlas 2007-2011 http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/birdatlas

Rock Pipit - Pauline Majury

Bird News for Thursday 3rd February.

A White -tailed Eagle was reported from the Warrenpoint Road in Newry, the bird was wing tagged and had a transmitter as well.

A male Pochard/Tufted Duck (Lesser Scaup type) was at Lough Beg,probably a returning bird. The fem/imm Smew was at the pools at Mullagh.(D.Steele)

15 Waxwing were at the Donaghadee Road end of Windmill Road in Bangor.(G.Gordon)

Bird News Wednesday 2nd February

9 Bewick's Swan (3 pairs one of which had 3 young) were at the lawn turf fields at Myroe Levels, Lough Foyle. They were with 204 Whooper Swan, 123 Greylag and 250 Brent. This is the highest count reported of Bewick's since the winter of 2006 (David Nixon).

A NE Jackdaw was at Nelson Drive in the Waterside in Derry (Theo Campbell).

Red Grouse

Red Grouse (Galway) - Paul Kelly, www.irishbirdimages.com
Good to see this news item about Red Grouse in Co. Antrim on the BBC NI News website:

Red Grouse is a very localised bird in Northern Ireland and can only be seen by putting in effort to find them.

They do breed in every county in suitable upland habitat but they have suffered a dramatic population decrease since the 1920s and especially in the last 30 years. It is difficult to ascertain the present status of the species in Northern Ireland but a "guesstimate" in the 1990’s was of 100 to 500 pairs.

Sites where more common reports occur from are from Black Mountain, Belfast, Slieveanorra, Co. Antrim, Murley, Co. Tyrone, Slieve Beagh, Co. Tyrone \ Fermanagh, Slieve Gallion, Co. Londonderry and Glenshane, Co. Londonderry.

On this date

2nd February 1986, saw Northern Ireland first and so far only White-billed Diver. It was discovered at Ardglass Harbour Co.Down by an old friend of the NIBA, Mr Ken Douglas (what a bird it was Ken!). It stayed for about two months and proved a very popular bird indeed within the twitching community. The bird rarely left the confines of the harbour allowing excellent views. To this day it still remains a very rare bird in Ireland with records barely getting into double figures.

Birding Frontiers - ID Talk

Martin Garners talk will be taking place at 7:30, Friday 11th February at CIYMS, Circular Road, east Belfast. There is no charge for NIBA members, for non members there is a £3 cover charge. For anyone needing to know the location of the venue, click on the link below:


There is plenty of car parking on site and refreshments are available.
Northern Harrier - Ian Lewington

Bird News Tuesday 1st February

The first winter male Ring Necked Duck was back at Lough Cowey, Co. Down.

30 Waxwings were at Sandringham Street, at the Lisburn Road end of Tate's Avenue in Belfast.

A redhead Smew was on the ponds at the east side of Mullagh, Lough Beg. (Irish Birding).

On this date.

1st February 1848 saw the provinces first Bonaparte's Gull, it was found on the River Lagan Co.Antrim, interestingly it was also the first for the Western Palearctic. There have been quite a few since, (10 records)but I'm sure over the years that a lot have been overlooked. The last twitchable bird was a first winter bird which stayed around Whitehead for around two weeks, allowing excellent views as it often came to bread.

First Winter Bonapartes Gull, Whitehead, Co. Antrim - Craig Nash

Black Guillemots

This is an excellent time of year for getting close views of Black Guillemots as they are prospecting for nest sites around harbours and coastal areas. Some excellent photographs from Danny Boyd, taken at Bangor Marina, are below:
Black Guillemot - Danny Boyd
Black Guillemot - Danny Boyd